China cracks down on Burmese migrants, Arakanese include among those arrested and deported

By Marm Sert Khaing

Dhaka: Chinese police nowadays are cracking down on Burmese migrants in its border towns close to Burma. Many Arakanese are also included among those being arrested and deported by the Chinese police over last weeks, said a coordinator of the Muse-base social group “Garunar”.

Deported Arakanese migrants in a Burmese town ( Photo by Bo Han face book)

“According to the information we have received from those who were deported, nearly 1,200 Burmese migrants, including women were arrested by the Chinese police in the recent crackdowns. The ones who have no passport are sent to jails while the ones who are arrested from a factory or industry are being pushed back to Burma after brief detentions”, said the coordinator.

He said over 20 Arakanese migrant workers on the Chinese side have arrived in his office in Muse on Burmese side after they have been arrested and deported by the Chinese police during the last month.

“16 Arakanese people who worked on the Chinese side arrived to us on March 23. They told us that there were 50 Arakanese working in a brick kiln on the Chinese side and that they were forcibly pushed back to Burmese side after being arrested at the kiln by the Chinese police. Another two of them from the same kiln came to us later on in the day as well, but we do not know yet what happened to the remaining Arakanese workers in that kiln”, said the coordinator.

He said 17 of those 18 workers deported from the kiln are Arakanese— 11 are from Ponnagyun Township, 3 from Sittwe, 2 from Pauktaw and 1 from Thandwe in Arakan State— and the other worker is from Kuatkhine from northern Shan State.

“Another batch of 154 workers who were deported from China came to us via Panhtan quay on the next day and we have found that there were 7 Arakanese among them as well”, said the coordinator adding that his group assisted those 24 Arakanese by giving them 20,000 kyat each and also provided food to them.

An Arakanese youth who is living in Kyaykhaung on Chinese border also said when the workers were arrested by the police, their Chinese employer did not render any protection as well as withholding their wages.

“The Arakanese workers told me that they were arrested at 8 am when they were working in the brick kiln and were put onto a car by the police immediately without letting them take back their possessions such as mobile phones and identity cards from the kiln, and their employer did not do anything to save them from the police’s arbitrary arrests, and did not give them their wages of 850 Yuan per person”, said the youth.

A Burmese worker who worked in Shweli said the Chinese police have started to crack down on the Burmese migrant workers since a Chinese police officer was stabbed to death in a clash between Burmese and Chinese citizens at a game shop in Shweli early this month.

“Six Burmese workers had a clash with Chinese citizens early this month at a game shop in Shweli. As they were fighting, the game shop owner called the police and a police officer in civilian clothes came to the spot and when he tried to mediate their fight, he was stabbed and killed. Four of them were caught by the police while the remaining two escaped. Since then, the police have started to crack down on all Burmese workers”, said the worker.

According to the sources, there are two types of border passes issued by the Burmese authorities in Muse for entry to the border towns of Shweli and Kyaykhaung on Chinese side—a red book is issued to the residents who have official family registrations in Muse and a one-time card is issued to any Burmese citizens who has a national identity card for 6 to 7 nights stay on the Chinese side, but no Burmese are allowed to work on the Chinese side with those border passes, and the Chinese authorities issue a green book as a work permit to the Burmese for working in their territories.

A Burmese worker who was released from the jail yesterday however said the Chinese police were arresting every Burmese migrant worker whether they have an official work permit or not and are torturing them in jail.

“I am working in Shweli holding the green book, but I was arrested whilst going to see my younger brother because I was worried for him. The police put me in jail and interrogated me using various tortures that included kicking and beating. There were many other Burmese workers in that jail as well. The police did not allow us to even look up at them. They also forced the women to sit up and down, and stripped them naked in the jail. They made the Burmese who fell sick in the jail drink water from the toilet as well. They released me on 29 March 2012 after my boss came and collected me from the jail, but they have taken away my work permit green book”, said the worker.

He said that it is difficult for any Burmese to assist their fellow nationals in the Chinese jails and that he was released because his Chinese boss picked him up from the jail.

According to sources, an estimated 5,000 Burmese migrants are currently in the jails in the border towns on the Chinese side.

News is spreading on the Burmese side that four days ago, the Chinese police arrested 10 Burmese women who included gem-stones traders and made them sit up and down and stripped naked as punishment in the jail, and later released them.